Last Friday, university students from campuses around Perth made it to the University Climate Walk-Out. It was a beautiful day, and the speeches began in Forest Chase. Chris Hall (Illuminate) and Erin Russel (Left Action) were among several student speakers at the walk. The march was organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) and Curtin Students faced no penalty for the strike. Other groups present included Extinction Rebellion and Frack Free WA.
“I can see faces here today that could be leading our country, and you know what?” spoke Chris, “Here today, are standing amongst all the other staff, students, young people, families, friends, from universities around this country, [people] standing up. Standing up for something they believe in, standing up for a future they will not leave behind.”
Students marched from Forrest Chase to the QV1 building (where Chevron is located), and were met by a heavy police presence running alongside the protesters. The roads were not blocked for the march, so speakers instructed the attendees to stick to the footpaths. Police on foot, horseback and motorcycle showed at the QV1 building, with more cars parked alongside the building.
At the protest, we called for politicians and companies to tell the truth about climate change and their emissions, and to commit to a peak in emissions by 2020. There were chants of “always was, always will be Aboriginal land”, “the oceans are rising, no more compromising”, anti-fracking, anti-Adani, and other pro-environment and pro-sustainability shouts from the crowd. We also called shame on Mark McGowan for allowing fracking to continue in WA. “Strike, occupy, shut it down, keep your carbon in the ground” was a favourite of mine.
Near the end of the speeches at the QV1 building, some students suggested that a group of us block the road. Though some began chanting “block the road”, dozens of police officers soon lined up to prevent us from doing so. A gap was left by the officers against the glass of the QV1 building, and protesters soon began to bang on the glass and continue to chant. Officers soon resumed their position and blocked protesters on both sides.
No arrests were made.
Why did we stop at Chevron?
It was recently revealed that Chevron’s Gorgon LNG project in the Pilbara exposed workers to toxic chemicals. Alongside tonnes of carbon dioxide, Chevron has also been polluting 300 million ppm BTEX and 13,000 micrograms of mercury per cubic metre into the air. It has also severely mismanaged its own carbon storage project, which was a condition in its approval to operate on Barrow Island, a Class-A reserve.
The Extinction Rebellion is holding their Declaration of Rebellion at the Parliament of WA on 15 August. On 20 September, a Global Strike for the Climate is being organised by School Strike 4 Climate.